HOUSTON — The Houston Astros broke out of their hitting slump on Saturday and extended Kip Wells’ misery in the process.
Carlos Lee hit a homer and had three RBIs, and rookie Hunter Pence drove in two runs to lead the Astros to an 8-3 win over the Cardinals and hand Wells his major league-leading 10th loss.
Adam Everett and Luke Scott also homered to help the Astros to their second win in 13 games.
“It was beautiful to come out there and swing the bats the way we swung them today,” Everett said. “Hopefully that’s just a sign of some things to come. We need to get going.”
St. Louis led 3-2 in the fifth before a bases-loaded double by Pence scored Everett and pitcher Chris Sampson. Houston pushed its lead to 5-3 when Craig Biggio scored on a groundout by Lance Berkman.
The Astros, who have scored three or fewer runs in nine of their past 13 games, evened the series at 1 after Friday night’s 8-1 loss.
Playing in his hometown, Wells (2-10) continued to struggle. He allowed seven hits and six runs for his sixth straight road loss. He walked three and had an error when he mishandled a bunt by Sampson in the fifth.
“I don’t necessarily feel I should be 2-10, but it’s about executing pitches and I’m not doing that,” Wells said. “If I knew exactly what was wrong, I would have fixed it. Ultimately, location is the key.”
“He’s just making mistakes,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “You can get away with some of them, but eventually you’ll get yourself into trouble.”
Lee’s 11th home run was a two-run shot that landed in the first row in the stands in right field. Right fielder Juan Encarnacion had his glove up, but appeared to misjudge the ball and shook his fist angrily after the miss.
“He just told me he was surprised he didn’t catch it,” La Russa said. “That was it.”
Lee leads the National League with 52 RBIs.
“We played a really good game today,” Lee said. “We did what we’re supposed to. We got key hits at the right times.”
Brad Lidge threw a 1-2-3 ninth and extended his shutout streak to
seven innings covering six ap-
pearances. The former closer said he’s feeling better than ever after offseason work on his mechanics.
Rookie Sampson (5-5) pitched eight innings for the win in his longest outing of his career. He allowed six hits and three runs with one walk. His five wins leads NL rookies.
“I had the good sinker working today,” Sampson said. “Starting in the fourth or fifth inning I was able to put it where I wanted it and get a good consistent sink on it.”
La Russa was complimentary of Sampson’s work.
“Sampson was way down in the zone,” he said. “We just beat everything into the ground. He did a good job of making good pitches.”
Scott’s fifth home run in the sixth inning made it 6-3. Everett’s second homer of the year, to the Crawford Boxes in right field, tied it at 2 in the second inning. He added a single in the fifth.
Jim Edmonds hit a solo home run to right field in the second inning to tie it at 1-all. A sacrifice fly by Aaron Miles put St. Louis ahead 2-1.
The Astros went up early when Lee’s sacrifice fly scored Biggio in the first.
Encarnacion scored on a sacrifice fly in the fourth when catcher Eric Munson, called up from Triple-A Round Rock after the game Friday, couldn’t handle the throw from left field.